In the immediate aftermath of UEFA’s eye watering sanctions against Manchester City, in respect of FFP misdeeds, Martin Samuel has written a piece loaded with insinuation and inference but light on evidence for this morning’s Daily Mail.
I’ve never quite bought into the whole conspiracy theory business in respect of football; be it match fixing, draw rigging or financial blind eyes.
That said, I do tend to take the view shared by Mr Bridger to Camp Freddie in the Italian Job (1969) “Camp Freddie, everybody in the World is bent!” This is merely a general world view cynicism, and not to be confused with the wild imaginings of some soccer themed Spectre type operation.
So the floodlights being switched off in some Copa America Cup game, thanks to the nefarious plotting of a Malaysian betting syndicate – yes. Liverpool meeting Sidcup Town in the FA cup final – no.
It’s not unfair comment that some Spurs fans, faced with the seemingly endless profligacy of their Premier League rivals (not a difficult achievement with Daniel Levy at the Tottingham helm) had managed to convince themselves that dark forces were at play in the game.
Which coincidentally enough, was the precise allegation made by Richard Keys when he lost his job at Sky Sports. And just as with Keys, there were no dark forces at all. He and his pal Andy Gray were simply being exposed for being a pair of seedy bigots – which video and audio evidence proved.
Martin Samuel may have compelling evidence that proves beyond all doubt that City were part of some footballing Bilderberg Group, but until he publishes it, today is a good day for football, whether one instinctively distrusts UEFA or not.
A two-season ban from participating in the Champions League, plus a fine of some £24.9million is hardly the slap on the wrist one might expect from a “protection racket” wanting to be seen to admonish one of its own.
Thankfully, there is a new breed of football journalism gently seeping into the mainstream. Where insights, analysis, and opinion are not formed in second rate curry houses after 13 pints of lager. I’d cite The Athletic in my summing up.
Manchester City have cheated, and for the first time in my 40-odd years of devoutly watching football, the punishment appears to fit the crime. This is not a time for celebration, but it might be a moment to pause and at least acknowledge that sanity has prevailed, if nothing else.
As for Tottenham, it is improbable we’ll ever get involved in such skulduggery, the intrinsic desire to spend simply isn’t there.